TL;DR: Think of a games company with an overly aggressive attitude to protecting its IPs and Nintendo is usually the first name that comes to mind. But it seems Sony isn’t slow at setting the lawyers loose against perceived infractions, either. The PlayStation maker has forced a company that creates custom faceplates for the PS5 to remove the products and cancel customers’ pre-orders following a legal threat.
As reported by VGC, PlateStation5.com had already undergone a name change following a complaint from Sony that it infringed on its trademarks. After rebranding as CustomizeMyPlates.com, the firm assumed Sony would back off, but things got worse.
“Before we launched, we did our due diligence and were of the opinion, that because Sony only had pending patents on the faceplates there would be no problem,” CustomizeMyPlates told VGC.
“But after only a day of our website being live, Sony’s lawyers asked us to change our name (at the time PlateStation5), due to trademark infringements. We thought this switch would be enough to keep everyone happy, and honestly were hoping so since we were already underway with our product development.”
"But then Sony's lawyers told us it was their opinion, Sony's intellectual property extended to the faceplates, and that if we continued to sell and distribute them in any country, we would end up in court," the email continued. "This all came to light yesterday and we are now cancelling and refunding all faceplate orders worldwide [...] we are extremely disappointed about this but we have no other option."
CustomizeMyPlates had been working with UK and Chinese manufacturers to create the unofficial faceplates, which were to be available in a variety of colors for $39.99. They were due to ship within two weeks of the PlayStation 5’s launch.
All existing pre-orders for the faceplates have been canceled and the offending products removed, though it does still sell skins. The company says it is now "wiser" on trademark laws.
Back in July, leaked images suggested the PS5 would feature swappable faceplates, and last month’s official teardown of the console showed the part uses a screwless design that allows it to slide off with ease. Could Sony have its own customized faceplates ready and doesn’t want third parties stepping on its toes? We’ll have to wait and see.